A meticulously researched history of Matakana, from Maori occupation to the mid-1980s, will be launched at the Matakana School on Saturday, November 25.
Former Matakana student and retired Presbyterian Minister, David Grant, who grew up on a dairy farm on the Glen Eden River, has spent the last six years on the project. He says he was encouraged to undertake the task by members of the Warkworth U3A local history group.
“Members of the group independently research local places and events, and in looking at Sandspit, the Matakana Dairy Company and the Glen Eden River, it occurred to me that what I was learning was too valuable not to be shared with a wider audience,” David says.
The result is a 500-page book called We Gathered Here, which includes 200 black and white photographs, as well as about 40 colour prints, collected from private collections, the Alexander
Turnbull Library, Auckland Library and Warkworth & District Museum. David’s daughter Helen Jack contributed the maps, and the cover is a watercolour by former Matakana teacher Gwen Rew.
The book contains information gathered mainly from personal interviews, as well as written memoirs, Papers Past and Minute books.
“Austin Smith gave me access to a lot of information saved by his father and the archives section at Warkworth Museum was also very helpful,” David says.
“The book is about the places that were significant to generations of Matakana residents – the places they worked, lived and socialised.”
David says sourcing material was a challenge and verifying its accuracy even more so. Copious footnotes are included as reference.
“What really struck me in the course of writing this history was how under-reported women’s affairs were. The Minutes of the Women’s Institute showed that the members were involved in a phenomenal amount of issues, but there is virtually no reportage or recognition of that fact. When women won the right to vote for the first time 1893, the turnout across NZ was 29 per cent, but in Matakana it was 32 per cent. There was obviously someone in the town who rallied the ladies of Matakana to enrol.”
David says keeping the book to a manageable size was also a challenge.
“Unfortunately, a lot of things had to be left out or else I would have had to write Volume 1 and Volume 2. People were very generous in allowing me access to their personal stories, photos and memories – it was a real privilege.”
We Gathered Here costs $49.90 and is available to purchase on the day or online wegatheredhere.co.nz
The launch starts at 2pm. All welcome.